Key figures from government, civil society and the private sector are attending a high-level meeting in Maputo, Mozambique, to discuss how to build on political backing and develop better coordinated, multi-sector strategies to deliver the high-quality, diverse diets required to tackle malnutrition.
The event, jointly hosted by the Global Panel on Agriculture and Food Systems for Nutrition, the Foundation for Community Development (FDC), and the Graça Machel Trust, is showing how the focus must shift from feeding people to nourishing people, harnessing the power of the private sector, as well as encouraging and enabling all consumers to access better diets.
“There has been a lack of coordinated action between government, civil society and private sector to ensure strong policies are effectively translated into action at provincial and district levels”, said Graça Machel, Founder and President of the Foundation for Community Development (FDC) and the Graça Machel Trust, “it is imperative that actions are coordinated across trade, education, health, agriculture, social protection, and water and sanitation”.
Mozambique has made a remarkable transition from a post-conflict country, with substantial improvements in the economy, food availability and access. However, 43% of children under five are stunted due to chronic illness and poor diets, and nearly 2/3 of children under 5 have vitamin A deficiency (62%) and anaemia (64%). Over half of women of reproductive age suffer from anaemia, and around a quarter are iodine deficient (54% and 27% respectively). Mozambique, like many other countries, will face challenges in future decades where undernutrition and micronutrient deficiencies co-exist with rising obesity and the associated diet-related non-communicable diseases.
Before the event, the Global Panel is launching its latest policy brief: Policy actions to support enhanced consumer behaviour for high-quality diets, which provides evidence-based recommendations on how food systems can be shaped to help consumers make healthy diet choices.
In this brief, the Global Panel is recommending that policymakers consider establishing national standards for high-quality diets, educating consumers for healthier dietary choices, and improving access to higher-quality diets for low-income consumers.
“Governments as well as agri/food businesses have the responsibility to encourage consumers to make better dietary choices”, said Global Panel member and Former Commissioner for Rural Economy and Agriculture, African Union, Rhoda Peace Tumusiime, “this will not only to lead to higher-quality diets, but also to reduce healthcare costs and to improve Africa’s economy.”